Phillies: Halladay hurtin’ on mound to start season

Roy Halladay has struggled early in 2013. (Getty Images) Roy Halladay has struggled early in 2013. (Getty Images)

If the Phillies (2-5) hope to make it back to the postseason, many things need to happen. At the top of the list is a bounce-back season from Roy Halladay. If Halladay struggles, the Phillies are unlikely to be playing this October.

Early in 2013, Halladay is scuffling big-time and so are the Phillies.

The two-time Cy Young winner was roughed up for seven earned runs in a 7-2 loss to the Mets Monday night at Citizens Bank Park. He was pounded in his first start at Atlanta, while throwing 95 pitches in 3 1/3 innings.

Halladay threw 99 pitches against the Mets in four-plus innings. He threw 99 pitches, 59 for strikes. His command was nowhere near where it needs to be.

Halladay has now started a season 0-2 for the third time in his career. He has never lost three straight decisions to open a season.

“It’s tough because you care about the game, you care about your teammates, you care about the fans, and you care about the organization,” said Halladay, who also started 0-2 in 2003 and ’04. “You want it badly. Unfortunately, when you go out there, everybody’s watching.”

The 35-year-old Halladay went 40-16 in his first two seasons with the Phillies. There were so many brilliant outings, including a perfect game in Miami and a no-hitter against the Reds in the NLDS.

While pitching with a nagging shoulder injury, Halladay won just 11 games last season — his fewest since 2004 – while his 4.49 ERA was the second-worst of his career.

In spring training this year, his velocity appeared to be down, but that’s nothing new. Especially for a veteran pitcher.

With a plethora of starts still remaining, Halladay can still have a solid season. If he does, the Phillies could stay in playoff contention. But if Halladay keeps going at this rate, the Phillies very well could be watching other teams compete in the postseason.

“I feel good,” said Halladay, whose ERA ballooned to 14.73. “I feel like I could throw 200 pitches. I really do.”

Halladay has allowed five or more earned runs in consecutive starts for the first time since June 6-12, 2007.

Physically, he says he’s fine.

Mentally?

“I would say (it’s) 95 (percent) mental,” Halladay said. “It’s important to get back to basics, letting things happen and not trying to force things.”

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has witnessed so many remarkable performances from Halladay and is hoping there will be more down the road in 2013.

“I’m concerned,” Manuel said matter-of-factly. “He says he’s healthy. Our doctors say he’s healthy. I’m hoping he gets better.”

Halladay kept pointing to command and location as the main issues in these first two starts.

“I just want to win,” Halladay said. “I’ll do whatever it takes to win.”

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